Process ID Limits And Reservations

FEATURE STATE: Kubernetes v1.20 [stable]

Kubernetes allow you to limit the number of process IDs (PIDs) that a Pod can use. You can also reserve a number of allocatable PIDs for each node for use by the operating system and daemons (rather than by Pods).

Process IDs (PIDs) are a fundamental resource on nodes. It is trivial to hit the task limit without hitting any other resource limits, which can then cause instability to a host machine.

Cluster administrators require mechanisms to ensure that Pods running in the cluster cannot induce PID exhaustion that prevents host daemons (such as the kubelet or kube-proxy, and potentially also the container runtime) from running. In addition, it is important to ensure that PIDs are limited among Pods in order to ensure they have limited impact on other workloads on the same node.

You can configure a kubelet to limit the number of PIDs a given Pod can consume. For example, if your node's host OS is set to use a maximum of 262144 PIDs and expect to host less than 250 Pods, one can give each Pod a budget of 1000 PIDs to prevent using up that node's overall number of available PIDs. If the admin wants to overcommit PIDs similar to CPU or memory, they may do so as well with some additional risks. Either way, a single Pod will not be able to bring the whole machine down. This kind of resource limiting helps to prevent simple fork bombs from affecting operation of an entire cluster.

Per-Pod PID limiting allows administrators to protect one Pod from another, but does not ensure that all Pods scheduled onto that host are unable to impact the node overall. Per-Pod limiting also does not protect the node agents themselves from PID exhaustion.

You can also reserve an amount of PIDs for node overhead, separate from the allocation to Pods. This is similar to how you can reserve CPU, memory, or other resources for use by the operating system and other facilities outside of Pods and their containers.

PID limiting is a an important sibling to compute resource requests and limits. However, you specify it in a different way: rather than defining a Pod's resource limit in the .spec for a Pod, you configure the limit as a setting on the kubelet. Pod-defined PID limits are not currently supported.

Node PID limits

Kubernetes allows you to reserve a number of process IDs for the system use. To configure the reservation, use the parameter pid=<number> in the --system-reserved and --kube-reserved command line options to the kubelet. The value you specified declares that the specified number of process IDs will be reserved for the system as a whole and for Kubernetes system daemons respectively.

Pod PID limits

Kubernetes allows you to limit the number of processes running in a Pod. You specify this limit at the node level, rather than configuring it as a resource limit for a particular Pod. Each Node can have a different PID limit.
To configure the limit, you can specify the command line parameter --pod-max-pids to the kubelet, or set PodPidsLimit in the kubelet configuration file.

PID based eviction

You can configure kubelet to start terminating a Pod when it is misbehaving and consuming abnormal amount of resources. This feature is called eviction. You can Configure Out of Resource Handling for various eviction signals. Use pid.available eviction signal to configure the threshold for number of PIDs used by Pod. You can set soft and hard eviction policies. However, even with the hard eviction policy, if the number of PIDs growing very fast, node can still get into unstable state by hitting the node PIDs limit. Eviction signal value is calculated periodically and does NOT enforce the limit.

PID limiting - per Pod and per Node sets the hard limit. Once the limit is hit, workload will start experiencing failures when trying to get a new PID. It may or may not lead to rescheduling of a Pod, depending on how workload reacts on these failures and how liveness and readiness probes are configured for the Pod. However, if limits were set correctly, you can guarantee that other Pods workload and system processes will not run out of PIDs when one Pod is misbehaving.

What's next

Last modified November 16, 2023 at 12:35 AM PST: Fix some typos in [en] docs. (5f3f34b39b)